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Embracing exceptional customer service

In the 17 years I’ve been writing this column, I’ve spoken of both bad and good customer service. But rarely is customer service exceptional. 

Until yesterday, when I met Claudia Paniagua, AAA’s Oceanside office branch supervisor. 

First some background. This past weekend I kidnapped my bride to celebrate 34 years of wedded bliss. She had no idea where we were going.

We’ve long wanted to stay at Disney’s Grand Californian. It’s corny, silly … and perfectly describes our relationship. 

We’ve avoided Disney for years. First, we felt saturated from our daughter’s childhood. Then along came COVID. So we’re due. 

The plan was simple: a long weekend, the big reveal after lunch at Downtown Disney, 3 days of fun together.

And I bought a package through AAA … only the ticket vouchers never arrived. There was a glitch in the computer system someplace, causing a disconnect between hotel reservation and amusement park tickets.

However, Disney demands park reservations, and you can’t make them without your ticket number. No ticket, no reservations. 

I discovered this issue 66 hours before we were hitting the road, tried Disney’s website and found it largely unhelpful. 

I called Disney’s customer service and found them useless. I was starting to hyperventilate at the idea that my well-laid plans would be ruined. Plus, I’d spent a lot of money on the hotel. 

Then the lightbulb went on over my head. I called my AAA agent … to learn she’s on vacation. I left a voicemail for her manager but got no response.

Dashing to AAA’s office, I met Claudia. Knowledgeable, personable and professional, Claudia spent almost two hours fixing my problem. She never let on that she had some concerns until we were done.

At every turn she assured me that we’d find a solution together. We struggled. We joked. We researched. And we triumphed.

I still don’t know what caused this issue, nor do I care. Claudia fixed it, and she’s my hero. I hugged her as we parted company.

Regardless of what you sell, you too can provide excellent customer service. As my new friend said: “The world is in trouble today, and each of us has the opportunity to try and make someone’s life easier by providing good service.”

Like me, it’s corny. But it’s also true.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Get customers singing your praises! 

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